The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) was founded in 2001, in the conviction that architecture is a public concern. It is therefore that it focuses on (the future of) the city.

Soon, 80 per cent of mankind will live in cities where over 90 per cent of our wealth will be produced – a rapid process of urbanization that could well wreck the environment. To make our future cities resilient and livable for everyone, the transition has to be planned, and the IABR holds that design can and should contribute.
Given the urgency, cities need to learn from each other as fast as possible and explore the road to a resilient future together. Indeed, it is in cities that solutions need to and can be found. The IABR therefore connects the Netherlands to the world, and brings the world to Rotterdam. It brings designers, academics, and thinkers together with decision-makers, politicians, the private sector, and of course the public, or rather citizens.

The IABR produces exhibitions, conferences, films, books, lectures, and debates, but it is also, and more and more, an incubator for innovation. Its long-term research by design­–programs promote knowledge exchange between cities and tangibly contribute to the making of the city.
The IABR–Ateliers are co-produced together with local and/or regional governments and other stakeholders in Holland and abroad. They connect the research by design-methodology to real world problems. They are solution-oriented and insist on applicable results –visions and strategies, toolboxes for governance, (financial) development models and pilot project proposals–; results that are actionable and designed to change the status quo.

The first two editions, Mobility(2003) and The Flood(2005) have put the IABR on the map internationally, profiling it as a manifestation focusing on the future of our cities.
The editions Power, Open City and Making City have explored ongoing rapid urbanization and its consequences, while staking out a position for urban design and making a case for how it can tangibly contribute.

The 6th and 7th editions take this agenda one step further. The need to design our future habitat in terms of a sustainable balance between demographic, ecological and economic concerns, between people, planet and profit, give direction to the program of IABR–2014 and IABR–2016.

IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE– has explored the relationship between city and nature, between spatial design and the ecological agenda. It studied the city through the lens of landscape architecture. Scrutinizing the relationship between city and nature, exploring city as nature, as a metabolism, the analysis produced instruments that can be applied to guide the design, planning and governance of our future cities. Necessary because, in the words of the Curator of the IABR–2014–, Dirk Sijmons: "We can only solve our ecological problems when we solve our urban problems first."
IABR–2016– THE NEXT ECONOMY– investigated the relationship between spatial design and the (future development of the) economy; between space and production. It took the main challenges of the twenty-first century as its starting point to explore the Next Economy and imagine the city of the future: the healthy and socially inclusive city, the productive city, and the sustainable green city. The city in which public space once again takes center stage.